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When we write a critical appreciation, what we are doing is evaluating a work, but critically. To do that, we first want to carefully analyze the piece. When we analyze poetry, we want to look at things like rhyme scheme, rhythm, and structure. We also want to look for literary devices, such as figurative language, parallelism, imagery, symbolism, etc. Analyzing for these things can help us gain a better understanding of the poem's meaning or themes. Once we have a strong understanding of the poem, its themes, and the devices the poet used to convey meaning and themes, we can then criticize it for effectiveness. When we critically appreciate a poem, we want to ask ourselves questions: Can we relate to the theme? Does the poet do a good job of conveying the theme? Does the poet use effective or ineffective literary devices? Do we approve of the themes or underlying messages? Essentially, do we like or dislike the poem and exactly why? While the text of the poem could not be found on-line, below are a few things to analyze the poem for to help get you started.
The poem's structure is very unique in that it actually resembles a Japanese Haiku. A Haiku is a 3-line poem containing a certain number of syllables. The first line is 5 syllables long; the second is 7; and, the third is 5 again, totaling 17 syllables. The poem "I Believe" is made up of 6 stanzas, each 3 lines long, just like a Haiku, making the poem's structure very reminiscent of a Haiku. An important thing to note is that the Japanese Haiku was usually a praise of nature and man's spiritual connection to nature. So, one thing you can ask yourself is, how does the Haiku structure relate to and tell us more about the poet's central theme of man and his capabilities, especially of man's spiritual capability of becoming one with God?
Another interesting element found in the poem is anaphora. Anaphora is a form of figurative language in which we intentionally repeat words to convey meaning. The phrase "I believe" is especially repeated. It may also be worthy of noting that anaphora is frequently found in the Bible. Hence, another question to ask yourself is, what does the use of anaphora contribute to the deeper meaning of the poem, connecting man with God, and is the use of anaphora effective?
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